The US secretly flew $400 million stashed inside wooden pallets out to Iran as four Americans were released from Tehran – but the Obama administration insists it was not a ransom payment.
The pallets, which were stuffed with euros, Swiss francs and other foreign currencies, arrived in Tehran on January 17. That same day, four US citizens were released in exchange for seven Iranians held in the United States.
Officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange, saying the deal was part of a $1.7 billion settlement to resolve a failed 1979 arms deal, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Bur critics claim that the clandestine multi-million dollar payment was part of the hostage negotiations.
They also point to the fact that President Barack Obama failed to make any mention of the $400 million when he announced the prisoner exchange.
‘With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,’ President Barack Obama said on January 17.
Iranians had demanded the return of the $400 million which was paid to the Pentagon by Iran, shortly before the fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to purchase US fighter jets.
Officials admit that Iranian negotiators had demanded cash over the exchange to show they had won something from the US in negotiations.
But they insist that negotiations on the prisoner exchange, and the failed arms deal settlement were completely separate.
This article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.